by Susan O’Neill
The Sugar Grove Public Library District will ask voters to increase funding for the operating expenses of the new building scheduled to open in August 2009. The 27,430-square-foot building, currently under construction, is located on a five-acre site at Municipal Drive and Snow Street.
The voters approved the increase in funds in 2004 to build the library, but have rejected a referendum that would increase funding to pay for the operation of the new building eight times. According to Library Director Beverly Holmes Hughes, the bond rate that residents are paying for the building is less than half the projected rate. However, the money from the approved building fund cannot legally be used for library operations.
The library is asking for an operating increase of 20 cents per $100 of assessed equalized value, which translates to an increase of $67 for the homeowner of a $200,000 house. That owner currently pays $188 in annual taxes for the library.
When the operating expenses referendum did not pass in November 2006, library hours were cut from 58 to 47 hours per week. Some of the children’s programs and all adult programs were suspended, due to staffing, scheduling and budget restraints.
Hughes said it was difficult to make the cuts and changes in the library’s hours, and if voters fail to pass the current referendum, additional cuts are likely.
This is because the same funds that are available to operate the current 6,000 square-foot building are what is available to operate the new 27,430-square-foot building. The new building will bring with it an increase in the utilities, insurance, staffing, maintenance and other operational costs.
Hughes said that even if the referendum passes in April, the library will not see the additional level of funding until July 2010.
According to a Kane County tax computation report from April 2008, the Sugar Grove Library’s operating rate is one of the lowest in Kane County. At 9 cents per $100 of equalized assessed value of a home, it is only higher than one library, Maple Park, which has a rate of 5 cents per $100. By contrast, Elburn’s Town and Country Library’s operating rate is 21 cents per $100, and Geneva’s operating rate is 26 cents per $100.
Passing the referendum will mean the library will be able to meet the insurance, maintenance and utility bills for the new facility, the addition of at least 11 hours to the library’s schedule, more staff added for providing services, additional library programs for the community and more books added to the collection.
For additional information, visit www.sugargrove.lib.il.us.